Using interdisciplinarity to tackle global water security
Friday, March 31, 2017

Dr Naho Mirumaci is a Lecturer in the Department of Geography at King’s, who works actively in water politics and governance. In 2016, Naho also became a PLuS Alliance Fellow and is leading two projects that have received seed funding from the Alliance. Humans have created a multitude of problems for global water security and Naho’s work reflects her desire to see all of us take ownership of our situation to find feasible solutions.

 

Problems surrounding water security are inherently multi-faceted. Understanding challenges involves finding out the political, economic and social forces contributing to the situation. The career pathway Naho has followed began with a background in political science and international studies. This variety of disciplines has equipped her with an effective set of ‘analytical lenses’, allowing her to view a problem from various angles to find collaborative solutions.

 

The first of Naho’s PLuS Alliance seed funded projects looks into governance of river basins and identifying key challenges in this area. The research conducted by Naho and her colleagues will support the development of a research framework for developing sustainability solutions. The team are looking forward to an upcoming visit to the Okavango river basin with undergraduate and Master’s students from King’s, Arizona State University and the University of New South Wales. This is an exciting pilot project of research-led teaching to give students a hands-on opportunity to learn and put their lessons into practice.

 

More recently, Naho and her colleagues have received seed funding to investigate the prevalence of arsenic in Mekong groundwater. Here, the intersection between water security and health is particularly clear.

 

Naho suggests that we should encourage critical questioning of how our everyday choices impact water security, even in regions geographically distant from our homes. Are we consuming food items or purchasing clothing that is produced in a region where water use for agriculture is sustainable? What are the social impacts of our consumer choices? Organisations such as the Water Footprint Network and initiatives such as Wonderwater Café make it easier for consumers to understand how much water is involved in producing the food and products we buy.

 

Moving forward, Naho emphasised that it is important to focus on building a community of thinkers, students, activists and corporations who will continue seeking improvement and innovation to address our environmental demands. Naho is the author of Transboundary Water Politics in the Developing World, a book exploring the political economy of international transboundary river basins and shared waters, and actively works with colleagues of the London Water Research Group. Her ongoing research and work with PLuS Alliance colleagues will help build a bank of knowledge for solution development and the education of future generations.